Saturday, August 29, 2015

When Your Friends Aren't Your Friends

Last night I got a phone call from a friend of mine. We were talking about the challenges in our lives and I confessed that I'm struggling with the college beginning Spanish class I'm taking. I'm struggling to keep up with the 18 year olds in the class, struggling with the hour plus of home work every single night.

She'd been sharing about some struggles related to a particular job opportunity, including that she'd decided against pursuing it because it would mean working some hours when her husband would be traveling for his business. Travel she always accompanies him on. Plus she wasn't willing to put in the classroom and study work the job was going to require.

I was surprised by her attitude because I know she and her husband are in serious financial straits and need the money she could bring. But I still encouraged her to find something she could do.

Her advice to me was a shocker. She started telling me that 55 year olds cannot possibly learn as easily or as swiftly as 18 year olds so I'd better be thinking about dropping the class and getting a refund before that deadline passes. She then went on to say any number of discouraging things about going to school as an mature adult.

The last time I had a friend try to run a number of me like that was something like fifteen years ago. That person just about complete derailed my life on many levels. For many months this friend, who is now deceased, tried to guilt me because I'd married out of college and not pursued my art career, like she had. She kept proclaiming what she'd done as 'true' and 'honorable' and 'artistic' and what myself and others had done by marrying and keeping our art only to a hobby as 'small-minded' and 'predictable' and 'waste of a life and education'.

I nearly bought it, I just about walked away from my marriage and my life because of all the guilt and condemnation she heaped me with. I could have stopped her, I could have told her how wrong she was, but I didn't. I allowed her jealousy to infect everything good about my life for about 18 months before I woke up and realized she was upset that I was leading the life she always wanted. Our friendship ended over it once I discovered that she was manipulating me in order to make herself feel better.

I don't think this friend is deliberately doing what the dead friend did. But I do think there's a measure of fear tinged maybe with a soupcon of jealousy. This person isn't very self-confident and has asked me before how I dare do some of the very things I love to do and doesn't seem to understand I do what I do because I want to do those things.

One thing is for sure. While the homework is long and arduous, and I'm not loving the classroom time I'm no quitter. I'm going to see this through to the end, pass or fail.


Karen said...

Haven't read your blog in awhile, so I apologize for the late comment... but I just wanted to say that I went back for a freaking Master's Degree, in my 40s, in a field unrelated to the one I'd gotten my BS in. While caring for elderly parents (but not working; husband's salary was sufficient). So, between undergraduate catching up plus graduate classes plus a thesis plus being parental caretaker, I thrashed around for 7 years. And now I'm not able to work in my new field, because of health issues. Even so, was it worth it? Heck, yeah!

I found that the first couple of semesters, I was really struggling with getting the hang of the academic schedule, taking notes, blocking out time to study every day, etc. I felt like I was an old lady in a sea of bright young things. But then I got the hang of it, and suddenly I was the quickest learner in the class... because I'd finally figured out how to learn in that environment, and I didn't have the mental distractions of young people. I didn't give a rat's patootie that my hair wasn't great that day, or that some cute guy talked to me, or whatever. And suddenly I was a knowledge vacuum, sucking up everything interesting in reach.

So stick with it. You'll get the rhythm of academia, and then you'll blast off.

Calulu said...

Thanks for the encouragement Karen. I'm settling in and have been getting high marks on all the online modules. I don't get how people think education after a certain age is a waste because a lifetime of learning makes you a much more rounded person.